Switzerland is running out of potato chips due to Covid and poor summer weather

2021’s mild summer has another victim: the humble potato chip.

Switzerland is running out of potato chips due to Covid and poor summer weather
Chips. Photo by Mustafa Bashari on Unsplash

As if the 2021 winter couldn’t get any worse, it’s now hitting us in the chip pocket. 

Because of 2021’s constant rainfall and general poor weather, Switzerland’s potato harvest is disappointing. 

When combined with a 30 percent increase in demand due to people sitting at home eating chips rather than going to restaurants, a chip shortage looms in Switzerland. 

Chips manufacturers do not have enough potatoes – and will need to import at least 20,000 tonnes from abroad. 

Chip companies say it is at this stage impossible to determine just how serious the shortage will get, with the impact hitting the shelves in December. 

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to beat its butter shortage (again)

“The exact extent of the shortage can only be quantified at the beginning of December, when the harvest is stored,” Anita Binder, press spokesperson for Zweifel told Watson. 

Switzerland’s complex import rules which seek to protect local farmers made the import a little more difficult, with special permission required from the Federal Office for Agriculture. 

“So far this year we have been able to source around 90 percent of potatoes from Switzerland,” said Binder, but the import quota is likely to increase. 

“We imported the remaining quantities from European countries such as Portugal, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Over the long term, we import a maximum of five percent from abroad. “

Binder said that while they are hoping chip lovers will not be too disappointed this year, it could become a sign of things to come. 

“Climate change can generally endanger the availability of agricultural raw materials” she said. 

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Weather: Switzerland prepares for ‘record-breaking’ hot summer

The hot weather of the past week makes us wonder what the summer months will be like in Switzerland. Will we walk around in shorts and flip-flops or thermal underwear and boots? Find out what the experts say.

Weather: Switzerland prepares for 'record-breaking' hot summer

It has been hot in much of Switzerland over the last few days, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees in some parts of the country.  But this is just a ‘foretaste’ of what lies ahead.

While this week is expected to be a bit cooler — more seasonal lower 20s —forecasts for the summer months call for even more intense heat.

“It will be hotter than usual,” according to Thomas Buchel, head of SRF Meteo.

“New heat records are very likely. It would be surprising if it went in another direction”, he said.

While it is too early now to predict just how hot it will get, the temperatures in certain Swiss regions “could hit 40 degrees”, Buchel pointed out.

This is close to this century’s previous “hottest” summer on record — 41.5 degrees measured in Grono, Graubünden 2003.

Another meteorologist, Joshua Gehring from the official weather service MeteoSwiss, said hotter weather “is a direct consequence of climate change”.

Specifically, a phenomenon called “heat dome” is hovering over Europe. It is, according to Gehring, “a stagnant anticyclone that acts as a lid to accumulate and retain heat”.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

But the environment is not the only one that is “suffering”, as it were, from this phenomenon.

According to 20 Minutes, “nearly 400 million francs are lost each year in Switzerland due to the heatwave and the drop in productivity that it causes in companies. That’s twice as much as the seasonal flu”.

“What is ideal for swimming or barbecuing cripples the economy. When working outdoors, performance drops quickly at such high temperatures”.

The Federal Office of Meteorology (MeteoSwiss) confirmed the dangers of extremely high temperatures on humans and nature alike.

“Periods of hot weather place extreme stress on the human body and can endanger health. Among other things, they can trigger cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and impair mental and physical performance”, MeteoSwiss writes.

“A hot spell can also have adverse effects on nature and infrastructure. For example, bodies of water often heat up considerably, causing fish to die, while high temperatures can lead to buckling of road surfaces and deformation of railway tracks”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

So if you are a summer enthusiast and thrive in hot weather, you can look forward to sizzling temps.

But f you are more of a “cold” person, this article from April of this year may bring back fond memories:

Winter weather to continue in Switzerland this week